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From Columbus: Liturgy for 'person's best friend' considered

By Pat McCaughan
6/16/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  The dog didn't offer expert testimony but his brief presence during an early Friday hearing of the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music Committee served as witness to the need to create a rite for loss of a companion animal (D041).

"Our animal companions provide a unique connection to creation and expand our sense of God's diverse gifts in creation. In many cases they also join us as partners in ministry, in such capacities as assistance animals, i.e. Seeing Eye dogs, etc. as well as therapy dogs and cats used in health care facilities and for pastoral care," according to the resolution,  authored by the Rev. Lee Shaw of Utah.

The resolution asks the 75th General Convention to direct the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop the rite for inclusion in the next edition of the "Book of Occasional Services" and to report its work to the 2009 Convention to be held in Anaheim, California.

"People grieve the death of an animal the same way they grieve the death of a parent. We need a liturgy to make that biblical passage. It's a matter of pastoral responsibility for what, in many people's lives, is one of the most important and painful moments to go through," said the Rev. Stephanie Speller from Boston, Massachusetts.